Sweden inevitably seems to lead the way, but now the country’s government is planning to introduce tax breaks to encourage a cut back on waste. And it is a pretty radical idea.
If often feels as if we live in a disposable society, from cars to smart-phones, they are not expected to last. The Swedish government has come up with a cunning plan. It is planning on tax breaks to encourage people to repair old goods rather than replace them.
One idea is to cut VAT on the repair bills on bicycles, gloves, and shoes, another is to cut the work fees for repairing home goods such as fridges, freezers and kitchen appliances.
It is a radical idea, because it is the disposable nature of our economy that gets money churning around.
On the other hand, the Swedish government is hoping that the tax changes will create local jobs, and create new skills. And that is where the idea is clever. If the country starts making goods last longer that are imported from say the rest of the EU, the US or China, that will improve the balance of payments and create jobs at home. Sweden may go some way to substituting jobs abroad for jobs at home.
See this in the wider context of a popular backlash against globalisation, and maybe the Swedish method is a far more sensible solution that the rhetoric of Donald Trump.
But also consider the implications of 3D printing and the option to have broken parts made on demand, and indeed locally.
You can see how a repair industry, with 3D printing experts at its core, could emerge.
In a different era it would not work, but in an era when the process of globalisation is coming under threat, and when technology is – or at least soon will – creating the option of 3D printed parts then the idea suddenly seems like it may have legs.